The Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit SATURDAY, JULY 12, 1890. THE SKINFLINTS.
The political party known m the House and throughout the country as "the Skinflints," although small, is nevertheless powerful. The Government and. Opposition parties are almost equally balanced as regards voting strength, but m the ranks of the former there is a small section who hate the Opposition 'and love not the Government. This section is the Skinflint party, whose sole idea is to cut down public expenditure, irrespective of consequences. So long as the Government pui'sued a policy of cutting down salaries, amalgamating offices, and fought to cut down education expenditure, and were willing to raise revenue by the wholesale slaughter of the public estate to whoever would buy, the ", Skinflints " worshipped at the Ministerial shrine. When, however, the Government paused m this policy, which has been their only characteristic, the Skinflints evinced a decided inclination to go over to the ranks of the enemy. The party, however, found themselves man awkward predicament. The Government were not .parsimonious enough to suit them, but the land policy of the Opposition was a ;spreater evil. The Opposition, while iwillihg to retrench without cutting down the education vote and reducing the efficiency of the public service, were unwilling to fill the public coffers by slaughtering the public estate to moneyed land-grabbers. The Skinflints therefore found themselves compelled to remain m the Government, ranks against their wish, and are making the most of the circumstances to coerce the Government into a promise to reduce public expenditure by £50,000 a year. The Government, although opposed to further retrenchment, and showing a decided desire to increase rather than reduce public expenditure ;by the appointment of extra judges, and m numerous other ways, have given the promise demanded of them; m other words, they have promised, for the sake of retaining Skinflint support, to reduce public expenditure by £50,000, even though the efficiency of the public service should suffer. Thus a dozen men, under Party Government, rule the House and the country. Government have to bid for their support, and are willing to swallow principle m order to retain it. The Skinflint Party look with greedy eyes upon the State system of free secular education, and think, although thjey dare not openly say so, that a knowledge of the " three R's " is quite sufficient for all the requirements of the offspring of Brown, the small farmer, and Jones the scavenger The bulk of the £50,000 proposed to be saved, the Skinflints well know, must come off the education vote, and they now rejoice that they have bound the Government down by a blind promise to save this sum. Will the Opposition permit this IWe trust not. We hope to see all the forms of the House made use of to prevent it; and an appeal made to the country upon the mattec, when we have no fear of, the result. The country has had quite enough of " panic legislation " since the present Government came into power; it does not require any more. Eighteen thousand people have been driven out of the colony during the past five years, and the exodus i still going on. Can we afford to drive more away by reducing educational and other present advantages. That is the question to be considered. Under a Skinflint policy the country may save £50,000 and lose £150,000 ! Is it advisable to do so, and is it to the best interests of the colony that a dozen men m the House should have it within their power to force such a policy m. direct opposition to the will of the people and their fellow members.